Irazu Volcano: Costa Rica’s Tallest Volcano

Known as Costa Rica’s tallest active volcano, Irazu Volcano stands at 11,260 feet. Compared to the Arenal Volcano–the country’s most active volcano, it’s been quite a silent giant since its last detected activity in the year 1996.

With its fascinating temperature of 7.5 degrees Celsius and the rare times you get to see the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from the tip of the volcano on a clear day, the Irazu Volcano is slowly making a name for itself.

Also famous for its craters and the national park that has been built around it, Irazu Volcano is a must-see if ever you’re in town.



The Irazu Volcano derived its name from two speculations. First, it’s the combination of ara (point) and zu (thunder) or the evolution of the word Istaru–the name of the16th century old Indian village that housed indigenous people along the borders of the volcano.

The first ever recorded eruption of this volcano dates back in the year 1723 but Irazu Volcano’s most notable eruption was back in the year 1963 when former US President John F. Kennedy came to visit Costa Rica. For two more years or so, the stratovolcano constantly spat glowing lava rocks, spat ashes and clogged the skies with thick dust. It was in the year 1996 when it was last seen and deemed as an active volcano.


The Craters of Irazu Volcano

The Irazu Volcano possesses a good number of craters to take pictures of and marvel at but a couple of these craters stand out to both locals and tourists. Diego de la Haya–the smaller crater is 300 ft deep below the surface and its mineral-enriched lake changes its color from emerald green to crimson red. This has always been one of the main attractions when exploring the volcano. The bigger crater is 900 ft deep and it releases steam–yet another sight to see for visitors.


The Irazu Volcano National Park

The entire stretch of the park surrounding Irazu Volcano is about 2,300 hectares and consists of primary, secondary and cloud forests. The wildlife and vegetation here is quite scarce considering the dry, rugged environment the volcano gives to the area. Occasional sightings of weasels, tiger cat, coyote and some bird species occur around the park. There is also one reserve found southwest from the volcano which is called the Ricardo Jimenez Oreamuno Recreation Area–formerly known as Ruben Torres Rojas Forest Reserve.


Amenities around Irazu Volcano

Camping in this park is strictly prohibited but there are several picnic tables and bathrooms surrounding the area. There are no accommodations available in the park either. Hiking trails aren’t too rampant in this area as there is only one trail that stretches for only half a mile.

Touring Irazu Volcano can take you half of a day to one whole day. Some buses can transport you to the tip of the volcano and tour guides are readily available.

There aren’t much to do and many to see in this part of Costa Rica. But even if the flora and fauna aren’t rich and abundant in the area, the Irazu Volcano can stand tall as its own tourist attraction flocked by many the year-round.


Getting to Irazu Volcano

Buses depart from San Jose to take you to the Irazu Volcano National Park but if you’re planning on bringing your own car, take the highway to Cartago and onto the asphalt roads that will lead you the center of the park.



Places to Stay Near the Irazu Volcano

Espino Blanco

Cerro Alto Lodge

Casa Turire



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